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Tapping local experts in Litchfield

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Tapping local expertise and working together as a community is what the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) is all about.

In the Litchfield area, Minnesota Rubber & Plastics launched wellness programs at its Litchfield plant about six years before SHIP came on the scene. “We started because health care premiums were going through the roof,” says human resource manager Marla Wendlandt. These efforts became known in the wider community, so when the local Statewide Health Improvement Program was forming they asked Minnesota Rubber & Plastics representatives to serve on the board.

As a result, SHIP connected Minnesota Rubber & Plastics and seven other worksites, four local hospitals, public schools and public health agencies.

The Chamber of Commerce in Litchfield, a town of 6,700, joined SHIP from the start, working with the alliance and communicating opportunities to its 250 members. The chamber also hosts a small-employer focus group to gain feedback. “Worksite wellness is one way to help businesses minimize their health care costs increases,” says Director Dee Schutte.

Another enthusiastic participant is Meeker Memorial Hospital. Promoting health makes sense, says Lori Rice, coordinator of education and marketing. Initiatives include new food choices on menus that feature low-fat and reduced-salt dishes with moderate calorie counts for patients, staff at meetings and guests at the cafeteria. The wellness committee seeks to develop a smoke-free campus policy. And, along with 220 employees, about 100 volunteers also have been offered low-cost health assessments. “We felt it was important to include our whole community here at the Meeker Memorial Hospital,” Rice says.

Updated Friday, 06-Sep-2013 09:49:28 CDT